Friday, December 13, 2013

Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy

A companion to Nursery Rhyme Comics, this follows the same format with a different artist interpreting each different classic fairy tale. I was skeptical about the appeal of Nursery Rhyme Comics, since anthologies and short stories of any kind are a hard sell at my library, but it did surprisingly well, circulating 16 times since I purchased it in February of 2012. I decided to give this one a closer look and see if it would have the same appeal.

Sweet Porridge by Bobby London (Brothers Grimm) will be familiar to those who know tales with magical mills or other implements that produce food until told the magic stopping words. In this story, of course, the bowl produces porridge. The art has a classic newspaper strip look, not surprising since the illustrator drew Popeye strips for many years. It's a light and funny story that younger kids will enjoy.

The 12 Dancing Princesses by Emily Carroll (Brothers Grimm) has a classic, fairy tale look. The panels have strong swathes of color and while it's not my favorite art, being a bit distorted in parts, it's mostly very attractive. It's pretty much a straight retelling of the story, not trying to get around the more icky parts of this story (some adaptations say the princesses were enchanted, but this one pretty much sticks to the original - the girls like to go dancing and don't really care that men are being beheaded for trying to find out their secret). It's a bit wordy and there's not much new to the story.

Hansel and Gretel by Gilbert Hernandez (Brothers Grimm) The art is one-dimensional with strong lines and bland colors and the humor is a bit warped. Kids will love it.

Puss in Boots by Vanessa Davis (Charles Perrault) I really don't care for Vanessa Davis' art style (her other book is a memoir, Make me a woman) but I have to admit the appeal of this story. The art is very distorted and kind of ugly, but it's undeniably funny, from the cat trying on his boots from the "itty-bitty bootery" to the princess and kind taking the air in the back of a pickup truck.

Little Red Riding Hood by Gigi D.G. (Brothers Grimm) Very digital art and nothing really added to the story except the woodcutter is a heavily-muscled woman. Didn't care for this one, I don't think kids will either.

The Prince and the Tortoise by Ramona Fradon, Chris Duffy, James Campbell and Jack Morelli (1001 Nights) This story will probably be new to most kids, but seeing the prince marrying a tortoise will tickle their funnybone. The art has a classic comic book look, think Prince Valiant. There's lots of humor and odd bits in this story and it was interesting to read - it's been a long time since I read 1001 Nights.

Snow White by Xaime (Jaime Hernandez) (Brothers Grimm) This one was just weird. It's the same basic story, but the art was really freaky. Snow White has these weird, long, wibbly arms that gave me the creeps. She is also, literally, dead white. Props for showing the wicked queen dancing in red hot iron shoes, but it's still weird. I know there are a lot of fans of Love and Rockets, but that's waaaay too old for this age group and frankly I've never understood the appeal. I thought that was weird too...

The boy who drew cats by Luke Pearson (Japanese, retold by Lafcadio Hearn) This is the same person who wrote the Hildafolk books, which I adore, so of course I will love this. It's very, very funny in a laidback way. I think kids will find the cats drawn all over everything hilarious and I especially loved the final droll joke.

Rumpelstiltskin by Brett Helquist (Brothers Grimm) I don't really think of Helquist as a graphic novelist, but he does a good job with a sort of distressed oil painting look, which ages his usual rich oil style. Now, I'm not going to say I'm biased (although I'm still mad about the awful covers he did for my beloved Green Knowe books) but I didn't really see the appeal of this story. It's just the same fairy tale with illustrations, it doesn't even address why the miller's girl is apparently perfectly happy to marry the horrible king who was willing to kill her (and looks about 20 years older than her).

Rabbit will not help by Joseph Lambert (Bre'r Rabbit) This story didn't really work for me. I'm familiar with the Bre'r Rabbit story, but it's a particularly confused one and Lambert's button-eyed creatures, many of them sporting creepy overbites, didn't help. I'm not sure kids will like this or not. The random violence and events might be kind of interesting, but the animals are sort of freaky-looking and the story doesn't really move smoothly.

Rapunzel by Raina Telgemeier (Brothers Grimm) It's Raina Telgemeier, everyone will love it. I loved that Rapunzel saved the day and her final innocent remark to the wicked witch made me choke with laughter. I'm not sure kids will get the joke, but they'll love the art and movement. Telgemeier is huge here, so anything she's done will be devoured.

The Small Tooth by Charise Mericle Harper (English tale) When Harper is good, she's good. When she's not she's WEIRD as heck (see Henry's Heart). This one doesn't quite fall on the weird side of the line, and I do have a lot of Fashion Kitty fans, so it will probably be quite popular. It's nice to see some of the old English tales as well.

Goldilocks and the three bears by Graham Annable (English tale) Apparently this author does something called the Grickle cartoons and comics? They sound vaguely familiar, but I can't quite place them. This is a pretty straight-forward retelling, but the pictures are funny.

Baba Yaga by Jillian Tamaki (Russian tale) I love Baba Yaga tales and this artist really caught my attention. Lovely art, well-suited to the story and she did a good job of picking a harmonious run of elements. I really look forward to seeing more work from her.

Bremen Town by Karl Kerschl (Brothers Grimm) I didn't like this art at all, sort of glowy watercolors and why does one robber have a blue face? I don't know if kids would like this one or not, but I didn't care for it. I thought he took the fun parts of the story out too.

Give me the shudders by Mazzucchelli (Brothers Grimm) I was so glad they included this story, it's one of my favorites! Basically, the youngest son (it's one of those third youngest fool stories) can't get the shivers and spends three nights in a haunted castle. I didn't care for the way they changed the ending, but it was ok I guess. The art is different but fun.

Azzolino's Story Without End by Craig Thompson (King and His Storyteller by Petrus Alphonsi) This made a nice ending for the collection, even if it's a bit obscure and possibly overly clever as well.

Verdict: Will kids like this as much as Nursery Rhyme Comics? Well, I didn't think they'd like that at all and they did. I see this collection as much more appealing, so possibly that means it won't be at all! Regardless, it's a great introduction to lots of different comic artists and styles, and would make a great book to help kids find their next favorite graphic novelist, although it's a little annoying that many of the artists usually only do adult things. Overall, I'd buy it and intend to do so.

ISBN: 9781596438231; Published 2013 by First Second; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: